So I’m going to go through the assessment process with Tusla.
Year 1 started on the 2nd January when I wrote a letter to Tusla stating our interest in being assessed for Inter-country Adoption. There is an information meeting that you usually have to attend, however as we had met with the senior social worker 2 years previous, they put us on the list for the preparation course. We expressed that we would travel anywhere in Ireland for the prep course to speed up the waiting. Additionally we were sent some paperwork that needed completing; financial statements, birth and marriage certs, approval letters for doctors for them to seek medical information on any procedures, G.P. forms, bank statements and Garda Vetting. I can’t remember if there was anything else.
Now as it turns out they didn’t seek the medical paperwork until the assessment started with the social worker, so as it was still up to date by the end of the assessment. Having spoken to other couples during this time they had to get the paperwork twice, at the initial stage of applying and before the social worker would start their assessment which seemed really unfair as it was delaying their starting the actual assessment. And putting more work on consultants, secretary’s, G.P Surgeries etc. unnecessarily. It just shows how different regions can vary and apply their discretion and common sense where needed but I think it’s a problem in the system. The assessment process should be nationalised as it’s leaving a lot of regions at a disadvantage.
In early March we got dates for the Prep course, it was 2.5 hours away but we were delighted. It was to be held every other Friday from April to June. There was 4 other couples. For confidentiality reasons I won’t be discussing the prep course too much. It involved introducing yourselves on the first day, topics like attachment, adoption in the media, perceptions, group work etc. It was nice to get to know others that are in the same position as us. We are now very good friends with another couple from the course.
Once the course was finished we had to formalise our wish to continue with the assessment process in writing to the local Tusla adoption services. We did this immediately and were signed a social worker whom we met in early August, due to annual leave etc. the proper assessment didn’t get started until early September. Initially I met with the social worker twice to discuss childhood, family relationships etc. then it was J’s turn, then by mid-October we were having joint meetings again. Our marriage/relationship, infertility, how we would see ourselves raring adopted children, age range of children, medical needs, country of choice etc. were all discussed in the joint meetings. I think there was about 6 joint meetings, so 10 assessment meetings and 1 beforehand and 1 after to look over the report and sign off on it. Again due to confidentiality I’m not going to massively get into this but if there are any specific questions email me!
So by the 2nd week in December we had our last meeting and the week before Christmas a draft report was with us. We have massive respect for our social worker, the whole team were lovely and although it was nerve wracking, we did enjoy the process and were very excited that we were finally on the way to being approved as adoptive parents. Oh in November there was a home visit, J showed him around the house and we all sat down together then to discuss the locality and what resources we had at our disposal should we both become ill at the same time, someone close by to care for the child, local schools etc.
I also just remembered that we needed 2 couples with children to act as references for us. Both couples had to fill out a questionnaire type form on us and 1 couple had to go in to meet the social worker at their offices. We are quite involved with our friends’ kids and would help out where we could so we had no concerns about this process!
So back to the start of year 2, early January we met with the social worker again to finalise the report. There had been a few questions in the draft that I’d answered over the Christmas, typed and printed it out and dropped into their offices before they re-opened in the New Year. I would recommend being as organised as possible in this way. The LAC (Local Adoption Committee) were to meet at the end of January. The social worker and senior social worker sign off on the report and the social worker presents the report with their recommendation to the LAC. They approve it or look for further information before it is presented to the AAI (Adoption Authority of Ireland) who then issue the Article 15, also known as the Declaration. Due to unforeseen circumstances the LAC meeting was delayed by 2 weeks, to the second week of February.
We had been advised by the social worker that generally the LAC or AAI will refer back to them for further information on something. Now the social worker was very thorough but we were expecting there to be some delay to gather further information on something. It was passed by the LAC mid-February and sent to AAI. It was approved by the AAI early March with no questions, no referring back to the social worker or us! We couldn’t believe after only 4 weeks it landed by registered post when we hadn’t expected it for another 2-4 weeks!!